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Who would've thought the MAC would have two teams in the Top 25 of the BCS standings right now? That's two more than the Big East has. Their out of conference schedules may not be that great, but neither is anyone else's and both of these schools have dominated MAC play all year. They are both 8-0 and two games above any other team in their divisions for a reason. Northern Illinois' only loss came in the first game of the season against Iowa at Soldier Field, 18-17. Kent State's only loss was 47-14 at Kentucky in the second game of the season. However, the Golden Flashes have a nice 35-23 road win at Rutgers late in October.
Northern Illinois comes into this game as 6-point favorites at 5dimes where they opened -5. They opened -6.5 at betonline, the first book to post lines each week. The Huskies beat four of the worst MAC schools (Akron, Buffalo, UMass, Eastern Michigan) by a combined 194-17. That's going to skew your stats a bit. Kent State had to play two of those schools, but didn't rack up as many points. No matter what their schedules were, it's safe to say each team can score.
The Huskies are led by Jordan Lynch who is having an incredible season with numbers matching those of Heisman frontrunner, Jonny Manziel. Lynch has respectable numbers through the air with 2,750 yards and 23 touchdowns to go with only four interceptions. But in addition to that, Lynch has racked up 1,611 yards on the ground and 16 more TDs. He is Northern Illinois. Lynch has had 100 yards rushing in all but one game this year and he still had three rushing TDs in that lone game. If you were playing fantasy college football, Lynch was a gold mine as this is his first year as a starter. The rest of the Huskies RBs have only totaled 1,329 yards. Due to injuries, Akeem Daniels will be the starting running back in the championship game and he only has 304 yards on the year, although with a nice eight TDs. Martel Moore has been Lynch's main target through the air with 1,015 yards and 11 TDs. Still, if there was an offense that relied on one person, this is it.
Each school has been prone to giving up points to quality teams so we can expect plenty of offense in this game. Kent State gave up 43 points to Ball State and 32 to Miami (OH). Northern Illinois allowed 23 points to Ball State, 34 to Western Michigan and 40 to Army.
The Golden Flashes may not have a do-it-all QB, but they still have a potent attack led by two 1,000-yard rushers. A lot of teams don't even have one 1,000-yard rusher, so that number stands up by itself. Dri Archer has a ridiculous 1,337 yards on 9.7 yards per carry. Yes, 9.7 YPC. The starter, Trayion Durham has 1,176 yards but only 5.0 yards per carry and both of them have 14 TDs. In addition to that, Archer is actually Kent State's leading receiver with 30 grabs for 458 yards and four TDs. With a running game like that, all quarterback Spencer Keith has to do is manage the game. He has 1,674 yards this year to go with 11 TDs and seven INTs. He has thrown four picks in the last three games and will have to cut down on that to keep Jordan Lynch off the field.
These teams were a lot different last season as Northern Illinois won the MAC title and finished with an 11-3 record while Kent State was just 5-7. The Huskies rolled over the Golden Flashes in all facets of the game on their way to a 40-10 win last year. Kent State mustered just 64 total yards in that game and that includes one rushing yard.
Northern Illinois is 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall and 4-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The Golden Flashes are 4-0 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and 14-3 ATS in their last 17 games overall. The under is 5-1 in the Huskies last six vs. a team with a winning record while the over is 5-1 in Kent State's last six vs. a team with a winning record. In this matchup, the under has hit four times in the last five games. The Huskies have covered in five straight meetings.
These two have almost identical yards per point numbers on offense but Northern Illinois edges out Kent on defense with a 20.8, good for 7th best in the country. But Kent's numbers aren't to shabby defensively. The weigh in with a 17.5, good for 19th in the nation. Factor in that Kent has played a schedule that was about a field goal more difficult and you have a dead even game. Northern Illinois has what Kent State wants. The MAC title. No other way for us to look in this one, we'll grab the points. Kent State +6